Encourager’s Devotional Series – February Bible Study Answer Guide

A FEW PRELIMINARY NOTES FOR THIS MONTH’S STUDY:

  • This is the answer guide for February’s Encourager’s Devotional Bible Study.
  • Many of the questions allow for various, personal responses. For those, I’ll not list answers but feel free to leave your answers to any question in the comments section.
  • If you would like a leader’s guide to this study, email me (pullupachairwithlisa@gmail.com).
  • All prior posts for The Encourager’s Devotional Series can be accessed by clicking here.
  • There were two meditation sections in the study guide this month – one up front to prepare our hearts for the study, and the other in its usual place the study.

MEDITATION (1)

Choose a few of the following accounts from the Gospels to read (or any others that may be favorites of yours which demonstrate the love of God). Remember, these stories are found in the other Gospels too, so you might want to do some cross-referencing and read several accounts. When you are finished, take some time to meditate on the extent of God’s love and express your thankfulness to Him.

  • The prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32)
  • Thomas’ doubt (Jn 20:24-30)
  • The crucifixion (Jn 19)
  • The adulterous woman forgiven (Jn 8:3-11)
  • “Father forgive them” (Lk 23:33-34)
  • Peter’s denials and restoration (Lk 22:54-62; 24:34; Mk 16:6-7; 1 Cor 15:4-5)
  • Do you have another favorite passage which demonstrates the love of God? Feel free to share it in the comments.

For the following question, I do not request you list the answers in the comments (though you may). If, however, you are doing this study with a small group, you may want to discuss it. 

Can you identify with any of these sinners?

  • the rebellious/wasteful son
  • the doubter
  • the mockers and unbelievers,
  • the one afraid to speak for Christ
  • the one led to sin by fleshly desires

From Romans 5:8, answer the following questions:

How did God demonstrate His love for us? Christ died for us

When did God demonstrate His love for us? while we were still sinners

Read 1 John 1:9 and reflect on the extent of God’s mercy and love.

INFORMATION

What did Jesus say were the two greatest commandments? Mt 22:36-40

Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself.

List the five types of leaders Jesus gave as gifts to the church. (Eph 4:11)

apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers

What are these leaders supposed to do for the saints? (Eph 4:12)

to equip his people for works of service – That is, to empower the saints to DO ministry themselves. 

What is the purpose of our works of service to one another? (Eph 4:12) Continue reading

Encourager’s Devotional Series – February Bible Study

This Bible study correlates with February’s devotion for the Encourager’s Devotional Series.

Meditation

You will have two meditation sections in the study guide this month. I’m putting an extra one up front because I believe that before you can be truly loving to others you must “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph 3:18). Understanding how much He loves you, and how He demonstrates His love for you, should fill you with a sense of security, love and appreciation which will then just more naturally flow out to others. So, to help you think on the “length, width, height and depth” of His love …

Choose a few of the following accounts from the Gospels to read (or any others that may be favorites of yours which demonstrate the love of God). Remember, these stories are found in the other Gospels too, so you might want to do some cross-referencing and read several accounts. When you are finished, take some time to meditate on the extent of God’s love and express your thankfulness to Him.

Can you identify with any of these sinners?

  • the rebellious/wasteful son
  • the doubter
  • the mockers and unbelievers,
  • the one afraid to speak for Christ
  • the one led to sin by fleshly desires

From Romans 5:8, answer the following questions:

How did God demonstrate His love for us?

When did God demonstrate His love for us?

Read 1 John 1:9 and reflect on the extent of God’s mercy and love.

Information

What did Jesus say were the two greatest commandments? Mt 22:36-40

List the five types of leaders Jesus gave as gifts to the church. (Eph 4:11)

What are these leaders supposed to do for the saints? (Eph 4:12)

What is the purpose of our works of service to one another? (Eph 4:12) Continue reading

Mature Love – February Encourager’s Devotion

Encourager's Devotional Series - February

Just as love is the crux of the Gospel message, it is also the key to building a vital, effective, mature church body. Love is such a key factor that Matthew 22:36-40 says everything hangs on it. When I read that verse, I picture a door with two hinges. One hinge is our love for God and the other is our love for people. If either hinge is broken, the door simply does not work as it should. It may even become stuck and be totally inadequate at fulfilling its purpose.

God has designed us with purpose. We are called individually to serve God in different ways. And we are called as a body of believers to function in a certain way so as to complete the work that God, through Christ, began on this earth.

Ephesians has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible because in it I see how BIG God’s plan is for the church. It inspires me to see how a mature body of believers could really accomplish great things. If we are ever to fulfill that calling, we must get a grip on the love thing. We will never be the mature Christians we should be, or the effective church we could be, until love is firmly planted in our hearts. That’s why I’m so excited about The Encourager’s Devotional Series and the benefits of intentionally building an encouragement ministry. I think it’s the first, and perhaps biggest, step a congregation can take in becoming what God has planned.

You see, one of the biggest and most harmful myths that pervades the church is the idea that it is “THE” ministry’s job, or the job of a select few, to make everyone else become mature believers. But Ephesians 3:14-4:16 tells us differently. The ministry’s job is to prepare the saints to do ministry. The body is called to edify itself in love. We are all called to speak to each other in ways that promote maturity (4:15), to treat each other lovingly (4:2-3), and to do works of service together (4:12,16).

Like it or not, God has called us together to be a people – plural (Luke 1:17; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9-10). His plan is that we work in community (Eph 2:19-22). This community aspect of our faith is so important that unity was Jesus’ “last request” concerning His followers before His death (Jn 17:20-26). It is only when we work together with other believers in love that we are most effective as witnesses of God’s grace, power and love to the world (Phil 2:1-15).

When studying the life of Moses as he led God’s people, one thing is abundantly clear – God insisted that they stay together. They could not split up and say, “Ok, those with enough faith and maturity can go into the promised land now and the rest of you who aren’t quite ready yet must go wander in the wilderness.” No, they would either go in as a people or wander in the wilderness together as a people.

Studying Moses helps us answer the question of how you stick with a group of people when you see the promised land (in other words you see that things should be better than they are), but the people around you aren’t quite “there” yet. Continue reading

Encourager’s Devotional Series – January Wrap-up

As we finish out the January theme of The Encourager’s Devotional Series – Hearing the Plea from Those Who Need Encouragement, I’d like to wrap-up with 1) further thoughts regarding a section in the Bible Study Answer Guide, 2) a few suggestions for easy ways to encourage, and 3) a couple fun videos that show the power of encouragement. Continue reading

Encourager’s Devotional Series – January Bible Study Answer Guide

Click here to view accompanying materials (original devotional, study guide and general introduction).

If you would like a leader’s guide to facilitate this study with a group of friends, feel free to email me at pullupachairwithlisa@gmail.com. The leader’s guide contains suggestions for ice-breakers, activities you can lead with a group, as well as additional teaching material.

ENCOURAGER’S DEVOTIONAL SERIES – JANUARY BIBLE STUDY ANSWER GUIDE

Information

Why was Paul in prison? 2 Timothy 1:11-12; 2:9

Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel.

How do Galatians 6:8-10 and Matthew 5:10-12 advise us to respond when we are persecuted for doing good?

They encourage us to keep on doing good and not lose heart.

How do these Scriptures bring encouragement?

They help us remember:

  • You will reap a harvest if you do not grow weary.
  • The kingdom of heaven is yours and your reward in heaven is great.
  • You are in good company (with the prophets before you).

In 2 Timothy 4:14,15 Paul has two responses to those who hurt him. What are his responses and how are they different? Continue reading

Encourager’s Devotional Series – January Bible Study

If you haven’t already read the January Encourager’s Devotional, you might want to check that out before proceeding to the Bible study below. And if you need to get caught up on the details of how this series works, see the introductory post.

Note, the Bible study format will always have four sections:

  • Information – This section may include additional reading, further thoughts on the month’s texts, background information and Bible study questions.
  • Meditation – Here you’ll find things to prompt personal reflection and thoughts on how the devotion may be speaking to you.
  • Application – This is where we’ll brainstorm together to stimulate ideas for possible follow-up responses to this month’s devotion. We’ll consider activities you may want to do, jot down the names of people who come to mind as you’re reading, and note personal promptings you may want to act on after contemplation and prayer. Many options should be considered even though you may not act on all of them.
  • Dedication – In this section you’ll be challenged to write down (either in the comments section following the blog, or in your own notes) things you want to commit to doing for this month or in months ahead. The list may contain both individual and group project ideas. I hope you choose to share your commitments here or with a friend or two to increase accountability for follow-through. If you choose to note them here, I’ll personally check in on you later and try to “spur you on toward the love and good deeds” you’re hoping to undertake.


ENCOURAGER’S DEVOTIONAL SERIES –
JANUARY BIBLE STUDY

Information

Why was Paul in prison? 2 Timothy 1:11-12; 2:9 (Note: I’m providing one link here to the book of 2 Timothy so you can scroll through the book for other references. For all other Scripture references, I’ll link to those specific texts).

How do Galatians 6:8-10 and Matthew 5:10-12 advise us to respond when we are persecuted for doing good? How do these Scriptures bring encouragement?

In 2 Timothy 4:14,15 Paul has two responses to those who hurt him. What are his responses and how are they different? Continue reading

Hearing the Plea from Those Who Need Encouragement – January Encourager’s Devotion

 

Paul to Timothy

Paul to Timothy (NKJV)

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 Welcome to The Encourager’s Devotional Series. I’m so glad you took the time to see what it’s all about. Before we dive into the devotion, here are a few notes about this devotional series:

Since this is the first post in a series that will continue throughout 2015, you may want to take a look at the introduction to the series (if you haven’t already) for information regarding the schedule for posting and what you can expect in the weeks to come.

Throughout the devotions, I will present many ideas on how you may apply what you’re learning to minister encouragement to others. I pray you will see the suggestions not as a list of “to do’s” (who needs any more of those?!), but as “prompts.” Let the Spirit stimulate your thinking, but don’t let it stop with just thinking. As you read, make note of anyone who comes to mind. Then, “be diligent” and “make every effort” to minister to someone with encouraging words and deeds.

For this first devotion, it may help to get out your Bible and turn to 2 Timothy. All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted. You might want to read the whole book (it’s a short one) before you read the devotion. Or, you may just choose to have it open for reference during your devotional time. Either way, I hope you enjoy the devotion!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Apostle Paul’s writings are so uplifting I don’t often think of him as someone who needed encouragement himself. Although, it does make sense. After all, he was often beaten, imprisoned, and bad-mouthed – both by unbelievers and by those who claimed to be of the faith. So, let’s look at Paul first as the encourager in order to gain insight as to how we might also be effective at this ministry even when we are experiencing hard times ourselves. Then we’ll look at Paul as the one in need of encouragement to help us recognize different ways others may need help.

The Encourager’s Perspective

In 2 Timothy, we find that Paul is near the end of his life. He is in prison, still facing opposition, and many of his friends have deserted him. After all he has done for the church, he seems to be concerned that some people are ashamed of him.

Yet, in the midst of all these trying things, Paul declared that the Lord was his sustainer and his deliverer. That Paul could stay so positive and focused on ministry during his own difficulties is something to consider as we seek to become encouragers. Paul did several things to maintain his ministry focus even when he himself was discouraged.

  • First, he reminded himself of the truth of the Gospel and the end result of the Christian life (2:9,11,12; 4:8; see also Rom. 8:18-39).
  • He also reminded himself of how God had helped him in the past (3:11).
  • He reviewed and showed thankfulness (1:16-18) for how others had blessed him in the past (reminding me of his words in Philippians 4:8).
  • And finally, he kept the needs of others in mind, even being willing to sacrifice himself for their sake (2:10).

Following these practices of Paul, we can keep ourselves encouraged, so we can then be uplifting to others. As Paul said, we should bring the Word to others and encourage them both “in season, and out of season” (4:2). In other words, we should do it even when our own conditions are less than favorable. Once we’ve geared ourselves up to become encouragers, we then need to become observant of those around us, intentionally looking to find people who need this ministry. As with Paul, someone people might not come to mind right away because they seem to have things in their lives under control. So we have to ask God to show us the real needs people have, sometimes despite their outward appearances.

Another Perspective: Paul’s Pleas for Help

Using Paul’s list of needs can prompt our thinking as to how we may help others this month.

  • Paul had an obvious physical need – he wanted a coat because it was soon to be cold (4:13,21). Can you help relieve someone’s winter worries by giving clothing, paying a heating bill, or running an errand for a shut-in? Is there a ministry in your area you might partner with to meet such needs?
  • Paul also had a spiritual need – to be reminded of the Christian’s ultimate victory as he struggled. Through cards, conversation or messaging, can you share the Word of God with someone to encourage them to persevere?
  • Then there are his emotional needs – Paul repeatedly expressed the desire for understanding and companionship (1:4; 4:9; 4:21). Notice how he appreciated that one friend actually went out of his way to be with him (1:16-18). Paul needed to know that he still had supporters, that not everyone was ashamed of him. Can you go out of your way to spend time with someone who’s lonely? Do you know someone who might feel a sense of shame for what they’re going through? Your companionship can help them feel accepted and loved.
  • And finally, Paul required help with his ministry (4:11). Can you come alongside someone to help in their ministry, even for one day or one task?

Remember, you don’t have to do everything that comes to mind as you contemplate the suggestions for ways to lift the spirits of others. But it is important to be diligent in seeking such opportunities. The world needs more encouragers.

Let’s do our utmost to go to those who need to be encouraged.

And, let’s hurry, before the cold becomes unbearable!

Next Wednesday, I’ll post the follow-up Bible study guide for this devotion. I hope you’ll continue to participate and let me know how you are finding ways to reach out to others who need to be refreshed.

proverbs-11-25-pic

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INTRODUCING The Encourager’s Devotional Series …

The idea for an “Encouragers Ministry” came to me after reading Hebrews 10:24-25 which says, And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds … encouraging one another …” In a commentary on that passage, William Barclay1 said:

Barclay on Encouragement

As Barclay notes, it just seems to be easier to discourage one another than to encourage. And yet, encouragement is such a wonderful and much needed thing. How powerful it could be if we set our minds on becoming more encouraging people. Unfortunately, the rigors of everyday life keep us from developing this ministry as we should. It takes focus and practice; it is something we must be intentional about doing. So, I thought, maybe if even just a few people decide to be intentional about developing encouragement skills … And thus, this devotional series was born.

Originally, I sent the devotional out in hard copy to subscribers. Each month they would receive the devotion, a companion Bible study, and suggestions on how to apply the study. Some used it as a group study to start an “Encouragers Ministry” in their church or with a group of friends. But many individuals have worked through the material on their own as well and found it rewarding.

When shipping the materials in hard copy format, I always included a little something “extra” – bookmarks, magnets, note cards, craft ideas and such – which could be used by the recipients as reminders of the monthly focus or be given away to others they sought to uplift. The hard copy version is still available. If you would like to subscribe, email me (pullupachairwithlisa@gmail.com).

This is the first time I have tried to put the devotional into digital form, so bear with me as I experiment with format. And feel free to leave me suggestions in the comments.

Here’s what you will receive if you follow this series on my blog every Wednesday:

A year’s worth of monthly devotions with messages to encourage you personally and inspire you to minister encouragement to others.

An accompanying study guide with four sections:

  • Information – additional reading, further thoughts on the month’s texts, and Bible study questions.
  • Meditation – things to prompt personal reflection as to how the devotion may be speaking to you.
  • Application – a section for ideas (both yours and mine) for activities you may want to do, people who come to mind as you’re reading, and personal promptings you may want to act on. This is kind of the “brainstorming” section, so all options should be considered.
  • Dedication – a place to write down things you want to commit to doing for that month or in months ahead. This last section may contain both personal and group project ideas.

I will post something related to the devotional series every Wednesday according to the following schedule:

1st Wednesday of the month – the devotional reading.

2nd Wednesday of the month – the study guide.

3rd Wednesday of the month – the answers to the study guide.

4th Wednesday (and the 5th if there is one) – my new version of the “something extra” I used to include in the hard copy. It might be a video, a tutorial, a link to a ministry idea or … well, I’m not sure yet. But I can tell you, I am passionate about this topic. I look forward to finding new ways to “spur you on to love and good deeds.” I am excited to share this journey with you.

To make sure you don’t miss any of the posts for the Encourager’s Devotional, click on my right sidebar to subscribe by email to follow me on WordPress.

 

1William Barclay, The Letter to the Hebrews, The Daily Study Bible (Edinburgh: The St. Andrew Press, 1955), pp. 137-138.

My First Year of Blogging – 2014 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. See what’s happened since Lisa started her blog on May 8, 2014.

Here’s an excerpt:

The busiest day of the year was October 16th with 81 views. The most popular post that day was 5 Controversial Statements about Race and Gender I’ve Really Wanted to Post on My Blog but Haven’t – Until Now.

Click here to see the complete report.